Chinese Billionaires and Rags-to-Riches Stories

Chinese Billionaires and Rags-to-Riches Stories

This was a really good article about Chinese billionaires and their rags-to-riches stories:

Living the Chinese dream

The article concludes with:

But one thing seems certain. Like many of history’s wealthiest titans, they are very much people of their time — and that time is quickly passing. They grew up hungry, both literally and metaphorically; they rode a wave of economic reform for all it was worth; and they worked hard at staying on top. China’s migrant peasants may still be hungry and hardworking but they may never be in the right place at the right time in quite the same way again. In 5,000 years of Chinese history, only the past few decades have created entrepreneurs quite like these three. Getting rich in China may never be the same again.

It corroborates with a lot of what I’ve seen in East Asia (e.g. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong), where the previous generation saw an environment where if you simply buried your head down, worked hard and were of above average intelligence, you invariably succeeded.  All of these countries enjoyed decades of 10% GDP growth and industry structures that were not yet entrenched.  Fast forward to 2015 and the landscape is very different and the same opportunities just aren’t there anymore.  It’s almost impossible to simply open a little grocery store with no capital and expect after 20 years to become the biggest food retailer in the country.

This also links back to my previous post about the narrative fallacy. We really cannot simply follow narratives of what others have done – because they were people of a specific time operating under a unique set of circumstances.

We have to write our own narratives.